September 2008

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Autumn Daybreak
Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know--for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor--
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.
-Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Forgetfulness
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
-Billy Collins

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Cecil P. Taylor's Author's Note for his play "Good":
Although Good is obviously based on facts of recent history, documentary material, and is peopled in some cases by real characters, this story of how a 'good' man gets caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich is a work of the imagination. What the tragedy which I have written as a comedy, or musical-comedy is about, will hopefully emerge in the performance. If it proves the good play we hope it is, like all good plays, it will have a special meaning, or shade of meaning, for each person who experiences it.The writing of the play is my response to a deeply felt, and deeply experienced trauma in recent history, the Third Reich's war on the Jews, as well as an intellectual awareness, not at all deeply felt, of my role as a 'Peace Criminal' in the Peace 'Crimes' of the West against the Third World - my part in the Auschwitzes we are all perpetrating today. I put 'crimes' in inverted commas, because my concept of history - which will hopefully emerge from the play - is not quite simple enough to allow me to see either the anti-social activities of the Third Reich, or of the West today, as simply criminal. If the problem were so simple, the solution might then be equally so. I grew up during the war under a deeply felt anxiety that the Germans might win the war, overrun Britain and that I and my mother and father would end up, like my less fortunate co-religionists, in a Nazi Death Camp - perhaps specially built in Scotland or England. There seems to have been some pressure building up in me for a long time to write a play about the Final Solution, marking and responding to a great historical and personal trauma. Not as a Jew, wanting to add my wreath to those already piled high at the graves of the Six Million, but as my own little gesture to revive their memory in our consciousness. It still seems that there are lessons to be learned if we can examine the atrocities of the Third Reich as the result of the infinite complexity of contemporary human society, and not a simple conspiracy of criminals and psychopaths. The 'Inhumanities' seem to me only too human and leading to a final Final Solution to end all Final Solutions - the solution to the Human Problem, a nuclear holocaust.
-C.P. Taylor
© 1982 Cecil P. Taylor (C.P. Taylor. Good. Methuen Publishing Limited. London. 1982.)

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A butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.
-Rabindranath Tagore

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...Junto al mar en otoño,
tu risa debe alzar
su cascada de espuma,
y en primavera, amor,
quiero tu risa como
la flor que yo esperaba,
la flor azul, la rosa
de mi patria sonora...
-Pablo Neruda

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Questions About Devastation
A man was breaking up the soil,
when another man came by, "Why
are you ruining this land?"

"Don't be a fool! Nothing can grow
until the ground is turned over and crumbled.

There can be no roses and no orchard
without first this that looks devastating.

You must lance an ulcer to heal it.
You must tear down parts of an old building
to restore it, and so it is with a sensual life
that has no spirit in it.

To change,
a person must face the dragon of his appetites
with another dragon, the life-energy of the soul."

When that's not strong,
the world seems to be full of people
who have your own fears and wantings.

As one thinks the room is spinning
when he's whirling around.

When your love contracts in anger,
the atmosphere itself feels threatening.

But when you're expansive, no matter
what the weather, you're in an open,
windy field with friends.

Many people travel to Syria and Iraq
and meet only hypocrites.

Others go all the way to India
and see just merchants buying and selling.

Others go to Turkestan and China
and find those countries filled
with sneak-thieves and cheats.

We always see the qualities
that are living in us.

A cow may walk from one side of the amazing city
of Baghdad to the other and notice only
a watermelon rind and a tuft of hay
that fell off a wagon.

Don't keep repeatedly doing
what your animal-soul wants to do.

That's like deciding to be a strip of meat
nailed and drying on a board in the sun.

Your spirit needs to follow the changes happening
in the spacious place it knows about.

There, the scene is always new,
a clairvoyant river of picturing,
more beautiful than any on earth.

This is where the sufis wash.
Purify your eyes, and see the pure world.
Your life will fill with radiant forms.

It's a question of cleaning
and then developing the spiritual senses.

Say you were blindfolded,
and a lovely woman came by.

You could know her beauty somewhat
by hearing her speak, but what
if she didn't say anything!

Muinuddin, there are marvels
you're not aware of. Don't judge with your eyes.
Look at me through my eyes.

See beyond phenomena,
and these difficult questions will dissolve
into love within love...
-Rumi
(translation by Coleman Barks)

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Unsurprising economic meltdown, and hope for the future...
Steal from the poor and give to the rich: this is the policy that we have in recent days seen the U.S. Government unhesitatingly and irresponsibly sanction by bailing out the big gamblers and law-breakers with tax-payer money. At least now this short-sighted and destructive approach to governance is undeniably out in the open. We saw this happen in the 1980s with the savings and loan scandal and bail-outs, and we are seeing now, as we saw then, people like John McCain, Phil Gramm and the usual assortment of corporate pirates get off scot-free and continue on their paths of self-advancement and cronyism. The mismanagement and plundering of our nation's wealth and the cavalier drive to burden future generations of its citizens with crushing debt have been hallmarks of U.S. government practice for quite some time, but never to the unprecedented degree that we have experienced during the eight years that the Bush Administration has plundered the treasury for the benefit of a tiny, very wealthy minority. Hopefully voters will keep this in mind when deciding whether they wish to continue in the same vein with McCain, or give change a chance to happen with an Obama administration. Perhaps, too, the mainstream media outlets, in response to the now undeniable financial and moral crises we face, will get back to allowing issues more pressing and significant than the personal and ethical foibles of Ms Palin to take precedence in their daily election "coverage". I have my doubts about their willingness to do so, but there is always hope.
-Viggo Mortensen

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Though I go to you
ceaselessly along dream paths,
the sum of those trysts
is less than a single glimpse
granted in the waking world.
-Ono no Komachi
(Translation by Helen Craig McCullough)

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Last edited: 27 February 2012 13:23:51